Teasing exciting potential with already stellar present skills, Dustin May cleared his first full season hurdle and jumped into the 2018 top 10. May’s projectable build and stuff give him one of the higher ceilings of the arms in the Dodgers organization. Touting one of the best walk rates in the organization at just 19 years old also brings up his floor. Entering a tough pitching environment at just 20 to start 2018, his performance in the California League should tell us if we have an elite starting prospect on our hands or a solid mid-level arm with excellent control.
With fiery red curls flowing out of his cap atop a lithe 6’6 frame, May stands out on the diamond. He’s listed at just 190 lbs. and clearly has yet to start adding his adult weight, and more strength will be needed to increase both his sitting velocity and his peak. Still, May cleared 130 innings in his first full season, and his repertoire allowed him to be surprisingly pitch efficient just one year removed from high school.
If his hair doesn’t catch your eye, his delivery most assuredly will. May’s high leg kick, bringing his knee level with his chin, and low three-quarters arm slot show off his impressive length. He’s a good athlete and repeats his delivery well, and he still holds his stuff well without the leg kick in the stretch.
Typically a low right handed slot doesn’t portend well to future starting prospects, but May’s fastball command should let him play up his fastball movement against left handers. His fastball has hard sinking life, diving down and in on right handers when thrown in the lower half of the zone. May controls the pitch surprisingly well given his age and the life on the pitch. The pitch helped May to a 51% ground ball rate, and coupled with his control, kept his pitch count down with quick ground outs.
Coming out of high school, May had produced one of the better spin rates on his breaking ball. He’s still trying to define the shape of the pitch though, as it sometimes appears like a slurvy pitch and at other times a sharper slider with less horizontal movement. His arm slot might make maintaining a tighter shape a challenge, but he’s flashed a plus slider before and given his already strong fastball control, he should have the aptitude to develop the pitch into a workable strikeout pitch.
Developing his change up should help May better hold left handed hitters at bay, who hit .272 against him in Low-A. His arm slot should give him good tumble and fade, needed movement for an outer half pitch against left handers. His fastball life has been overwhelming enough for younger hitters, but as he moves up the ladder, he will need a quality third pitch, and the change up has the most promise thus far.
For May to turn the corner and become a frontline pitcher, the easiest fix will be to gain strength to increase his velocity. He topped out in the mid 90s in high school but reportedly has pitched in the lower 90s as a pro. Naturally, more velocity can be expected from a 6’6 190-lb. teenager.
Additionally, the California League should be a good challenge for him to fine tune his command and learn how to better set up hitters, especially left handers. It has been a little too easy for him to throw his bowling ball sinker and let younger hitters swing over the top of it or pound it into the ground. Will his walk rate climb if batters stop chasing it, or adjust to his attack plan?
These critiques seem like nitpicking of a pitcher that passed a big test as a teenager, and May just needs time to develop physically. It’s rare for someone so young and tall to have already accomplished this level of control, which is why his upside is so exciting.
Despite advanced skills, guessing his big league ETA feels like something less than an educated guess. I’m assuming he will need a full season in the California League, but could move quicker in 2019, so 2020 would be a realistic time for his debut. Given the Dodgers’ depth of pitching prospects, I would also expect May to be a favorite of teams scanning the organization for a trade fit. Until the Dodgers have a more comfortable feel for just how special May could be as a prospect, dealing him away this early could be a decision they might regret in the long term.
2018 top Dodgers prospects
|8||Dustin May||RHSP||20.07||HiA||55||45||65||electric arm, high spin rate FB and BB, polished||arm slot lower, easier on LHH, needs strength|
|9||Will Smith||C/2B||23.00||AA||55||50||55||+ athlete for C, excellent plate discipline, defense||offensive production can fluctuate, atypical C build|
|10||Mitchell White||RHSP/RP||23.03||AA||55||45||60||high K potential, chance for + SL and CT, FB Velo||injury history, command wavers, poss. reliever|
|11||Yusniel Diaz||CF/RF||21.06||AA||55||50||55||improved swing for pop potential, arm, defensive pot.||in game power lagging, tweener profile|
|12||Cristian Santana||3B||21.01||LoA||55||40||65||excellent build, loose athlete, chance for + power||long swing, chance for swing and miss, raw|
|13||Edwin Rios||3B/1B||23.11||AAA||55||45||60||big raw power, strong, productive hitter, arm strength||avg bat speed, fringy at 3rd, mistake hitter|
|14||Starling Heredia||LF/RF||19.02||LoA||55||35||70||man-child physique, huge raw power, upside||still raw at the plate, serious swing and miss|
|15||Morgan Cooper||RHSP||23.06||NA||55||50||55||good frame, + BB with BB manipulation, production||injury history, longer arm action, ceiling more #3|
|16||Gavin Lux||SS||20.04||LoA||55||50||55||should stick at SS, athletic, plate discipline at age||overall offensive ceiling, some hit struggles early|
|17||Jordan Sheffield||RHSP/RP||22.10||HiA||55||45||60||electric arm, + present fastball and CV, athletic||production doesn't match stuff, likely reliever|
|18||Imani Abdullah||RHSP||20.11||LoA||55||45||60||excellent frame, upside, feel for spin on CB||17 a redshirt year, limited exposure, little stiff|
|19||Kyle Farmer||C/3B||27.07||MLB||50||50||45||good feel for hit, offensive profile at C, utility||more productive bench bat then starter, age|
|20||Caleb Ferguson||LHSP||21.09||HiA||50||45||50||K production, 3 pitch mix, command, feel for spin||upside more mid rotation, maxed out frame|
|21||Connor Wong||C/2B||21.10||LoA||50||45||50||versatile talent, good athlete for a C, solid power prod||some swing and miss, build not projectable|
|22||Josh Sborz||RHSP/RP||24.03||AA||50||45||50||high floor, command of three pitches, competitive||stuff has backed up this season, likely reliever|
|23||James Marinan||RHSP||19.06||ROK||50||40||55||projectable frame, flashes + SNK, chance for +CH||slurvy BB, more middle than upper rotation upside|
|24||Devin Smeltzer||LHSP||22.08||HiA||50||45||50||high pitchability, 3 pitch mix, throws nothing straight||fringe avg velo, 4th or 5th starter ceiling|
|25||Matt Beaty||1B/LF||24.11||AA||50||45||50||excellent feel for hit, career production, game pop||limited ceiling, future defensive home|
|26||Andrew Sopko||RHSP||23.08||AA||50||50||45||3 pitch mix, pitchability, command, deceptive||velo can be fringy, bottom rotation upside|
|27||Ariel Sandoval||CF/RF||22.05||HiA||50||35||60||livey athlete, raw power, arm, 2nd half production||too raw at plate, noisey set-up, high swing and miss|
|28||Tim Locastro||SS/2B/CF||25.09||AAA||50||45||45||good bat to ball skills, high steal rate, versatile||fringe pop, stretched at SS and CF, upside|
|29||JT Chargois||RHRP||27.04||AAA||50||40||55||heavy life on SNK, GB ability, arm strength||limited track record, long injury history, age|
|30||Jake Peter||2B/SS||24.11||AAA||50||45||45||fluid LH swing, arm strength, versatile||utility/bench upside, ? on overall pop|
|31||Yaisel Sierra||RHRP||27.01||AAA||50||40||50||good velo, SL will flash +, quick arm||command, incon. release, FB can be straight|
|32||Wilmer Font||RHSP/RP||27.10||MLB||50||40||50||excellent K production, rise on FB, + SL||age, previous command issues, upside|
|33||Ibandel Isabel||1B||22.09||HiA||50||30||60||++ raw power, physical build, strength||huge swing and miss, poor defender, raw|
|34||Mitchell Hansen||CF/RF||21.11||SS||45||40||55||chance for 5 tools, upside, projectable frame||struggling to break full season, swing and miss|
|35||Errol Robinson||SS||23.06||AA||45||45||50||smooth infield actions, throwing arm, solid athlete||better long speed than SB threat, off. ceiling|
|36||Johan Mieses||RF/CF||22.09||AA||45||40||55||impressive arm, defensive ceiling, raw power||serious swing and miss concerns|
|37||Omar Estevez||2B/SS||20.01||HiA||45||40||55||added defensive versatility, some feel for hit||production stagnated at Hi A, power potential|
|38||Donovan Casey||CF/RF||22.01||SS||45||45||50||twitchy athlete, production, solid bat to ball skills||ceiling more 4th OF than starter, power ceiling|
|39||Edward Paredes||LHRP||31.06||MLB||45||45||45||K production, tough on LHH, + SL||age, one pitch reliever, LOOGY upside|
|40||Rob Segedin||3B/LF||29.05||MLB||45||45||45||hit vs lefties, gets most of tools, avg pop||bench bat upside, limited defender, upside|
|41||Drew Jackson||SS/2B||24.09||AA||45||40||50||elite athlete, + to ++ speed and arm strength||offense improving but limited ceiling, utility upside|
|42||Wills Montgomerie||RHSP/RP||22.10||LoA||45||40||50||spin rate, durable build, flashes + velo and CV||uneven production, command wavers|
|43||Cody Thomas||RF||23.06||LoA||45||35||55||great build, good athlete, chance for above avg pop||still raw, swing and miss concerns|
|44||Jesen Therrien||RHRP||25.00||AAA||45||45||45||SL flashes +, good command and K production||TJ wipes out '18. middle relief/ROOGY upside|
|45||Carlos Rincon||RF||20.06||SS||45||35||55||big raw power, physical upside, bat speed||pretty raw offensively, serious swing and miss|
|46||Kyle Garlick||CF/RF/LF||26.02||AA||45||45||45||productive, feel for hitting, avg pop||4th outfielder profile, age, fringe speed|
|47||Luke Raley||LF/RF||23.06||HiA||45||40||50||muscular build, chance for above avg pop||just avg bat speed, possible swing and miss|
|48||Luis Paz||1B/C||21.09||SS||45||40||50||power production, bat speed, strong build||? on ultimate defensive home, avg athlete|
|49||Riley Ottesen||RHRP||23.05||LoA||45||40||50||good velo, will flash + SL, arm speed||poor college production, likely reliever only|
|50||Rylan Bannon||3B||21.11||SS||45||45||45||college/pro production, good feel for hit, game pop||skills over tools, ceiling, possible utility upside|
|51||Leo Crawford||LHSP||21.01||LoA||45||40||50||solid production, command of 3 pitch mix||fringe velo, not as projectable, likely back end|
|52||Zach Reks||LF/RF||24.05||HiA||45||45||45||feel for hit, on base skills, productive||- power, age, 4th OF profile|
|53||Romer Cuadrado||LF/RF||20.08||SS||45||35||55||excellent frame, chance for + raw power||development lagging behind age, swing and miss|
|54||Ryan Moseley||RHRP||23.06||LoA||45||40||50||chance for ++ snk, big groundball potential||struggles with command, results don't match stuff|
|55||Jared Walker||3B/RF||22.02||LoA||45||40||50||+ size/athleticism combo, chance for hit/power, + arm||raw, buggy whip swing, error prone in IF|
|56||Zach Pop||RHRP||21.06||NA||45||40||50||good life/velo combo on FB, solid build, poss. CH||mid relief profile, SL loses shape in low slot|
|57||Corey Copping||RHRP||24.03||AA||45||45||45||good SL, bulldog mentality, decent production||FB velo avg to fringe, middle relief ceiling|
|58||Shea Spitzbarth||RHRP||23.06||AA||45||45||45||agressive mound demeanor, arm strength, CV||middle relief upside, maxed out frame, size|
|59||Layne Somsen||RHRP||28.10||AA||45||45||45||tough overhead BB, production, athletic||limited mid relief ceiling, age, avg FB velo|
|60||Tony Gonsolin||RHRP||23.11||HiA||45||40||50||arm speed, flashes + SL, solid K production||lithe build, not quite late relief upside|
|61||Alfredo Tavarez||RHSP/RP||20.04||LoA||45||35||50||king sized frame, arm strength, K production||still raw mechanically, repeating arm slot, command|
|62||Aneurys Zabala||RHRP||21.03||LoA||45||40||50||will flash ++ arm strength, some feel for spin||relief profile, command, limited physical upside|
|63||Michael Boyle||LHSP||23.11||HiA||45||40||45||pitch movement, pitchability, 3 pitches||no plus pitch, fringy velo, #5 starter/swingman|
|64||Jefrey Souffront||2B/3B||20.11||ROK||45||35||50||some feel for hit, quick bat, mature plate approach||distance from the majors, build not projectable|
|65||Jacob Amaya||SS/2B||19.02||ROK||45||35||50||chance to stick at SS, good athlete, some feel for hit||distance from majors, offensive ceiling|
|66||Ronny Brito||SS||19.00||SS||45||35||50||infield actions, long athlete, chance to hit||? on overall offensive potential, far from majors|
|67||Logan Crouse||RHRP||21.04||LoA||45||35||50||size, projectability, athleticism in delivery, arm action||Fringy present velo, lots of projection left|
|68||Chris Mathewson||RHSP/RP||21.10||HiA||45||40||45||SNK/SL mix, solid production, command||back of rotation, middle relief upside, fringe velo|
|69||Adam Bray||RHSP||24.11||HiA||45||40||45||durability, feel for spin, good command||fringe starter upside, upside, avg K potential|
|70||Brian Moran||LHRP||29.06||AA||40||40||45||funk in delivery, tough in LHH, K potential||limited ceiling, fringe velo, age|
|71||Nolan Long||RHRP||24.02||HiA||40||40||45||long frame, athletic for size, FB flashes +||long levers to control, command, likely reliever|
|72||Mike Ahmed||1B/3B||26.02||AA||40||40||45||productive in '16, swing plane, avg pop||bat speed, age, limited upside|
|73||Nathan Witt||RHRP||21.11||ROK||40||35||50||good build, projectable, arm strength||project arm, distance from majors, relief upside|
|74||Travis Taijeron||LF/RF||29.02||AAA||40||40||45||good career power production, physical build||age, defensive upside, swing and miss concern|
|75||Jacob Scavuzzo||LF||24.02||AAA||40||40||45||solid tool profile, still a chance for upside||game going backward, struggling hit tool|
|76||Max Gamboa||RHRP||22.04||ROK||40||35||50||excellent arm strength, + to ++ velo, good frame||production does not match stuff, incon. SL|
|77||Dean Kremer||RHRP||22.03||HiA||40||40||45||decent athleticism and frame, K production, sink on FB||was hit hard in HiA. Homer prone, no + pitch|
|78||Moises Perez||2B||20.08||LoA||40||40||45||loose athlete, some feel for hit||offensive ceiling, lower on defensive spectrum|
|79||Isaac Anderson||RHSP/RP||24.07||HiA||40||40||45||versatile arm, some SNK on FB, avg SL||no plus or above avg tool, low ceiling, taxi arm|